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PostHeaderIcon How to handle the cold weather

From global warming to frosty forecasts, the year of the Horse has galloped the gamut of weather conditions to a most unpredictable spread of unseasonable temperatures across the planet.  2015 embarks upon a continuation of inclement conditions and related advisories as we open the cover of the calendar.

In sunny California, the news of cold extremes likely to affect nearly 50 percent of the Northern hemisphere’s total landmass, classified as a cold region, at some point in the year, is reason to take action.  The seriousness of freezing temps is relative to associated environmental influences, such as wet or dry conditions and wind chill factors.  Wet freezes, where temperatures rise to at least 50* F during a 24 hour period, will thaw.  On the contrary, a dry freeze below 14*F will not thaw out.   Wind chill factor, the effect of moving air on exposed skin, together with wet weather, drains body heat faster, accounting for greater total heat loss.

According to U.C. Berkeley News, cold weather impacts lives directly and indirectly, by snow and ice-related accidents, house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning from burning oil lamps and gas heaters in improperly ventilated closed areas.  The frail and elderly are most vulnerable and women account for 2/3 of cold-related fatalities.

Although this year end brutal cold front, referred to as the Polar Vortex, a rotating pool of cold dense air from the North Pole, descending from the Arctic of Alaska, spreading from Chicago to Tulsa and even south to Miami, has shuttered schools, halted transit lines and impeded daily work schedules, the National Weather Service reports that temps have been dropping since the 1930s; the winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

Translated from the original Latin term, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed”, simply stated, this means knowledge of imminent danger can prepare one to overcome danger.  Prevention by preparation and protecting yourself are paramount.  The National Safety Council outlines facts and tips for surviving frigid conditions and names the three significant health risks to avoid with sensible protection:  hypothermia, frostbite and windburn.

Steps for staying warm definitely begin with dressing properly to insulate and shield the body with multiple layers of loose-fitting clothes, trapping warm, dry air inside.  Wool and polypropylene fabrics are best as they wick, and do not retain moisture as cotton does.  A wind and waterproof outer layer is ideal, since wet-cold and wind-chill factors together intensify risk of skin freeze in less than 5 minutes of exposure.  Special attention to areas of the body in need of protection due to major heat loss are the head and neck and most susceptible to frostbite are fingers and toes, cheeks, ears and nose.

Appropriate wearing apparel in snowy or frigid weather is a must and should include a hat, scarf, high neck sweater, insulated jacket, mittens and waterproof boots.  A heavy sleeping bag can be a life-saver.  Heightened awareness of the risks of overexposure to unrelenting cold weather is key and should be tempered with understanding to stay indoors whenever possible, according to storm advisories.  Conventional wisdom dictates against consuming alcohol in freezing weather for more than one reason:  it impairs sensitivity to decreases in temperature and there is greater heat loss from dilatation of skin blood vessels. Staying hydrated, by other means, is essential since imperceptible water loss takes place from breathing, sweating and more frequent urination in cold climate.

Should overexposure to cold occur, such as involving fingers or toes, rewarming in lukewarm water, not hot, for 20 -25 minutes, without rubbing or applying external heat, is the best therapy.  Hypothermia sets in when the body loses more heat than is produced and changes in physiologic as well as mental status will be present.  Irregular heartbeat and breathing will advance to a decreased level of consciousness and requires immediate medical help.  Stumbling, mumbling, fumbling and grumbling are evident, even to the point of the affected person being uncooperative.

Quick action to remove the person from the source of exposure to a reclining position under shelter and adding insulating blankets, towels, newspapers or any available layers of protection is the first line of defense.  A snow cave or bunker is an effective shelter, as snow insulates and blocks the wind.  Seek medical responders, treat the person gently and build a fire with caution.

Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and regular contributor to allnewsnoblues.com.


PostHeaderIcon Uses for the Humble Clothespin

What has been a household staple for generations, the mundane, yet multi-purpose ordinary clothespin has evolved from an object of long lasting, economical simplicity to many forms and hybrids.

The first of its kind, straight wooden forms made in England were identified as pegs.  The craft was associated with gypsies using small split lengths of willow or ash wood.  Then in 1853 the spring type clothespin was invented by David Smith of Springfield, VA.

Today, a wide variety of clothespins are available for use other than hanging sheets out to blow in the breeze.  Take your choice, wood, plastic, rubber covered wire, in a variety colors or plain wood.

A bit of Americana in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA, there stands a skyscraper tall, colossal sculpture of a common clothespin.  In a Middlesex, VT, cemetery, a 5-foot-tall grave marker is mounted respectfully erect in the design of a clothespin.
In 1998, The Smithsonian Institute hosted an exhibition titled “American Clothespin.”  The curator of the exhibit witnessed a young lad turn to his father and asks “What is a clothespin?”

Albeit clothespins as such have a long and practical history, however, with the advent of the automatic electric revolution in the art and style of laundry practice, the humble adjunct to getting a grip on shirttails and socks has virtually been aced out for that purpose.  Some community home owners’ associations have even banned using clotheslines in the neighborhood and every manufacturer of wooden clothespins has closed its doors.

Nonetheless, the many assets and uses of the clothespin speaks well for its diversity, a closure for the potato chip bag is just the beginning.  Many craft projects, from creating dragonflies to sling shots or even building a mousetrap, incorporate the use of clothespins.  Playing cards attached to the spokes of bike wheels to simulate a motor sound couldn’t be done without clothespins.

Around the house, holding a nail in place with a clothespin while swinging the hammer will prevent damaged fingers.  Unable to stop a nosebleed, a clothespin will do, in a pinch.  As for organizing discount coupons, take-out menus and other assorted paper keepsakes in the miscellaneous (junk) drawer, you can count on the capable clothespin to keep rank and order in the file.

Using a marking pin to label, the wooden whiz can easily identify each electrical cord in the maze under a desk or behind the TV/entertainment center.  The clothespin serves at casual parties for place card holders or clip-on name tags.  In the kitchen or in the library, the ever-clever clothespin makes a perfect paper clip, keeping the page open while reading or checking a recipe in the cookbook. 

Pairing items together, such as mittens, socks and slippers, makes for ready access, as well as clipping elements of a child’s outfit with clothespins works for more successful self-dressing.  Pins of various colors can serve to label each family member’s lunch bag in the fridge or like-kind backpacks on the hook.

On the road, a clothespin clipped to the visor is a convenient way to hold outgoing mail, a parking pass or a memo.  You can be creative with color or inventive decorations on a clothespin attached to your antenna for easy locating in the parking lot.

Then there’s the almighty strength of a magnet glued to the wooden wonder.  Ideas are countless, but on the fridge the can-do clothespin is reliable in holding on to kids’ collectable art work, shopping lists and important reminders.  In the laundry room, why not secure one on the side of the washer to hold a single sock awaiting its match that seems to elude its mate.

According the American Heritage web page, “Low tech and old fashioned though it may be, the clothespin continues to capture the imagination and attention of hopeful inventors.”  A grand total of 146 new patents for this marvel laundry mate were granted in the mid 19th century alone and 9 more in the U.S. since 1981.  Recent innovations of the catchy clothespin have been named The Teardrop, The Zebra, Hurricane Grip and even a Weather-Predicting incarnation.

As styles change in the fashion industry, so also is there dimension for the genesis of the perfect (clothes) pen.

Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and San Ramon resident.


PostHeaderIcon Feminist:Stories from Women's Lib Movement Tuesday

A pivotal chapter of American history will come alive Tuesday, Oct. 14  through a free  screening of the documentary film, Feminist:  Stories from Women’s Liberation.  The 7 p.m. presentation at the Village Theatre in Danville is a one-hour film showcasing the events of the Women’s Liberation movement during the years of 1963 – 1970.

As told by the men and women who experienced the time period personally, the film explores the significance of a second wave of the women’s liberation movement.

Released in 2013, Director Jennifer Lee began shooting interviews for the film in 2004.  Her work has been shown in film festivals, on college campuses, for non-profit organizations, in middle schools and has appeared globally.

Her film has been entered as a part of the National Center for History in the Schools and won “The Best of the Fest” for a documentary at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.

Director Lee, selected feminist accounts from an era at the peak of the 20th Century women’s movement, which forged a path into “every corner of our lives.  It transformed our country”, she admits.

Her rationale for making the film streamed from inconsistencies and missing memories in the information related to the women’s liberation movement.  Having always considered herself a feminist and displaying talent in working in the film industry, Lee is not a novice at making meaningful documentaries on her own.  As a filmmaker, writer and speaker, Jennifer Lee screens her film nationally and speaks on the women’s liberation movement and independent filmmaking, regarding this film as appropriate for adults and students from middle school through college level. Speaking engagements have taken her as far as the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Her life was woven into a colorful tapestry of cultural experiences from her early years on Staten Island, New York in the 60’s and 70’s to later residing in a Quaker Meeting House in Atlanta, where the neighborhood teemed with filmmakers, actors, gay activists, political activists, feminists and a blend of the counter culture of the time. She performed in a dance theater company and volunteered at a feminist book store in her youth.

When she moved to the San Francisco area after graduation from college, Lee became a film compositor, working on many feature films of notoriety.   The lure of Los Angeles and hopes of Hollywood paved the way to Warner Bros. and an extension of career experiences.

Her technique used in the filmmaking of Feminist incorporated reports and photos of many of the feminists who were vitally instrumental in making the movement happen. Lee reveals that “One woman’s story led to another.”  She traveled the country and realized how far-reaching the movement’s impact, initiated by individuals, not leaders, had spread across the United States.

Not all events and names of principle feminists are well-known, however, the documentary is a defining history of the efforts of “a relatively small group of women who gave voice to the feelings of millions of women.  They are a vital part of American History and they deserve to be remembered.”

Director Jennifer Lee will be present and interactive with the audience for questions and answers directly following the screening.

The Village Theatre is located at 420 Front Street in Danville.  For further information contact:  www.danville.ca.gov or 925.314-3400 -- KRB


Karen Balch is a retired R.N., freelance writer and regular contributor to allnewsnoblues.com.


PostHeaderIcon Call for Artists for Lighthouse Store

Artistry in many forms is the theme of the day on Saturday, Oct. 18, when an art show is being hosted by Lighthouse Christian Supply in Dublin.

Local artists have been welcomed to display samplings of their talent in the newly relocated shop at 6841 Dublin Blvd, across from Dublin Civic Center Plaza. A variety of artists, photographers and potters will avail themselves of the opportunity to place their creations in a prime spot for viewing.

In business for 25 years, the family-owned and operated Lighthouse, since 1989, has established a well-known reputation as a venue for quality merchandise in the Tri-Valley.   Formerly in the Target Shopping Center off Dublin Blvd, Lighthouse has a wide variety of Christian books, Bibles, reference materials, musical recordings, videos, gifts and cards.

Their coffee shop and seating area provides a restful atmosphere for taking a break and enjoying some flavored coffee and teas, along with a tasty snack.  Serving the greater San Ramon and Tri- Valley area, customers rely on the convenient location as a meeting place to shop and gather with friends.

The first-time event will run from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. on October 18th. An ample parking area is at the rear of the building at 6841 Dublin Blvd.

For more details, contact Lighthouse Christian Supply at 925.829.3698 or www.dublinlighthouse.com.-- KRB

Karen Balch is a freelance writer, retired nurse and San Ramon resident. She writes regularly for allnewsnoblues.com






PostHeaderIcon Yosemite Adventures: All You Need for Fun in Park

ANNB: How long have you been a climber and an outdoor enthusiastic?

MJ: My parents took my brothers and me camping when we were young and I was involved in scouting. But I became much more enthused right out of college in 1994 when I got a job as a reporter near Yosemite, learned to climb and fell in love with the place.

ANNB: Did you really draw from 20 years of experiences for this book? How did you possibly keep track of them all?

MJ: I write notes about the climbs I do and keep a journal on backpacking trips. That provided a good start, but once I got the contract to do the book, I revisited lots of places to get the details and pictures right before the deadline. That involved hiking and skiing about 200 miles in Yosemite last year.

ANNB: What makes Yosemite so special?

MJ: Incomparable scenery, easy access and limitless opportunities for outdoorsy people who climb, hike and ski all make it special. The people there do also, definitely. I meet visitors there from all over the world and they tend to be friendly and great folks.

ANNB: There are so many special and unique places in Yosemite; how did you manage to fit them all into your book?

MJ: You force me to admit that they're not all in the book! I chose 50 favorites out of hundreds of experiences I've had there. I tried to help readers experience Yosemite in a broad way, like I have, in all seasons, with multiple activities and levels of difficulty and throughout the whole park, not just the valley. There are plenty of other adventures besides the ones I chose. I'd be very happy if people used my writing to get started exploring Yosemite and then branched off to their own discoveries.

ANNB: Your bio is very interesting. You say "Johanson writes with the sensitivity of a starving gorilla using a chainsaw to open a can of soup.” So wrote a disgruntled reader. A Tea Party leader called Matt’s commentary “hack garbage” and ESPN turned down his work as “too pro-Giants.” which points out, what some might call, failures. Why do you do that?

MJ: I guess because I thought those complaints were funny and didn't take them too seriously! Teachers and writers both need thick skin. Besides, I consider it an achievement to get the Tea Party annoyed at me.

ANNB: You teach high school journalism. Do your students ever ask for tips on writing books?

MJ: A few have but mostly we're busy producing the best newspaper we can together. For each of my books, I've asked the kids to help proofread and credited them in the acknowledgments. They definitely earned that because they caught quite a few typos and slip-ups, and I think being involved has been fun for them.

ANNB: How do you possibly manage both careers?

MJ: Well, I work way harder at the teaching! Writing is more of a hobby for me and I only do projects that I think will be fun. But when I do write something, I drive myself a little crazy to make it the best I possibly can. There are several photos in the book that took a full day of hiking each to get, and a few of them took several days of hiking or skiing.

ANNB: Where can we meet you, buy the book and have it signed?

MJ: I'm talking about the book at Castro Valley Library on May 18 from 2-3 p.m., at Lafayette Library on May 22 at 6:30 p.m., and at Pleasanton Library on July 6 from 2-3 p.m.

ANNB: You have written other books. Tell us a little bit about that.

MJ: My old friend Wylie Wong and I collaborated on the first, “Giants, Where Have You Gone?” It's a collection of “where are they now” stories about old Giants players. That paved the way for “Game of My Life: San Francisco Giants” and “Yosemite Epics.” But “Yosemite Adventures” is the book I've always wanted to do the most.

ANNB: What's up next for you?

MJ: The best bet is another guidebook of favorite Sierra Nevada outings, though I'd also like to write another baseball book if the right opportunity comes along.-- KB


Signed copies of Matt's books are available at www.mattjohanson.com


PostHeaderIcon Shrek: The Musical Opens Saturday in Livermore

Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre presents: Shrek: the Musical opening Saturday, July 19, and running through Aug. 3 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. Performances are on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Directied by Carol W. Hovey, the choreography was handled by Kevin Hammond and the vocal direction done by Sierra Dee. The musical director is Jo Anne Fosselman.


Based on the DreamWorks animation motion picture and the book by William Steig, the music is by Jeanine Tesori and the producer is Kathleen Bredveld.  Suitable for all ages, Shrek brings the hilarious story of everyone's favorite ogre to dazzling new life on the stage.


In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre, not a handsome prince, shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won't shut up, a bad guy with a short  temper, a cookie with an attitude and other fairy tale misfits, and you've got a big mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand...and his name is Shrek.


The cast is as follows: Shrek: Dane Lentz, Princess Fiona: Catherine Williamson, Donkey: Aaron Porchia, Lord Farquaad: Chris Olson, Pinocchio: Burton Thomas,Gingy/Featured Dancer: Dominic Dagdagan, Dragon/Shoemakers Elf/3 Blind Mice: Danielle Pierce, Teen Fiona/Humpty Dumpty: Christine Curulla,Teen Fiona/Ugly Duckling: Claire Shepard, Young Fiona/mice: Emily Joy Kessel, Young Fiona/mice: Juliana Morrow, 3 Blind Mice/Dragonette/Queen Lillian/Rat: Katherine Stein, 3 Blind Mice, Dragonette/Rat: Tosca Maltzman, Dragonette/Wicked Witch & Mama Ogre: Nicole Squires, Straw/King Harold:Ron Pickett, Sticks/Knight: Jeremy LaClair, Bricks/Knight/Rat: Matthew Busbee, Papa Bear/Papa Ogre/Knight: Mark Flores, Mama Bear: Chelsea Ashton, Sugar Plum Fairy/Bluebird: Suzie Shepard, Fairy Godmother/Rat: Amanda Ross, Peter Pan/Deer: Eric Gateno, Big Bad Wolf/Rat: Brian Olkowski, Little Red Riding Hood/Rat: Izzy Shepard, Baby Bear/Grumpy, mice: J.D. Cerruti, Captain/Bishop/Villager/Rat: John Holst, Young Shrek/Mice:Dylan Cazin, Thelonius/Guard/Knight: Jeffrey Warner, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Heidi Amstrup, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Meghan Hornbacker,Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Kelly Lotz, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Max DeSantis, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Michelle Roque.


For tickets, go to the Bankhead Theater box office at 2400 First Street in Livermore or call 925-373-6800, Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m,. or Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. More information vist www.mylvpac.com -- KJB

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